This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Donderdonk’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
I'm so glad I waited to see this again before talking about it.
Episode VIII is a shocking entry into the Star Wars franchise, with story beats, character arcs, and ideas never before seen in the saga. Though, for these reasons, the film has received a very mixed reaction from audiences, it is for these reasons that I find The Last Jedi to be such an electrifying experience.
Where The Force Awakens focused more on characterization, The Last Jedi more so plays with character dynamics, particularly between Rey and Kylo Ren. The world that Johnson expands upon is actually made smaller through these characters' connection with each other. The action-heavy third act is propped up on their wonderfully layered and detailed relationship built in the previous two acts. The Praetorian Guard fight (and everything that follows) is thrilling not only because of the beautifully shot and choreographed action but also (and predominantly) because of the dynamics between Kylo and Rey that were advanced beforehand.
Kylo Ren is just one of the greatest characters ever; the expansion of his internal struggle that is explored in this film is utterly sensational and probably my favorite aspect of the film. He is easily the most complex addition to this new trilogy, and Adam Driver portrays him flawlessly.
I'm still not sold on the Rose/Finn relationship (or their entire subplot, for that matter, which just felt like a completely different film), but, considering how many things I came around on with a second viewing, I’m willing to see if it, too, grows on me with time.
I believe this film reaches further heights than The Force Awakens but lacks the consistent pace of the latter film. The Last Jedi actually requires patience; it's uncharted and unique and full of the unexpected and it often leaves us to wonder where its headed. And I, myself, then, wonder: why is that a problem? 83/100